Posts Tagged ‘NFL International’

Two 0-3 teams going nowhere - oh wait going to London this week

Two 0-3 teams going nowhere – oh wait going to London this week

The Steel Curtain prevailing over the Purple People Eaters – no not the name of two fantasy football teams that squared-off on Sunday, these were two of the most dominating defenses in NFL history.

For the Steel Curtain, a Pittsburgh Steelers team led by the likes of Mean ‘Joe’ Greene, there were four Super Bowl wins. For the Purple People Eaters there were an equal number of Super Bowl contests fought, but for the Minnesota Vikings no wins.

That was the 1970s when sideburns ruled and disco dancing was the thing you did on a Saturday night.

Fast forward to the 21st century and these two teams are again under the media magnifying glass, but this time it is for two reasons, and neither of them are anything remotely to do with winning football games.

The 0-3 Steelers travel to London this Sunday to lock horns with the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings, in the first of two, yes two regular season NFL contests being played on this side of the pond.

Both teams sit at the foot of their respective divisions, having failed to muster a victory between them in six contests.

The Vikings, the home team in London, have conceded 31 or more points in each of their losses, and the Steelers have managed to score just 42 points in three games. The Denver Broncos managed 49 in their FIRST game of the season.

When I saw the two games announced last year that were to be played in London this year, the other being the San Francisco 49ers against the London…I mean Jacksonville Jaguars, I was like the majority of UK and European fans, most excited about seeing the six-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings.

I did think at the time that the Steelers were on a downward slide, after two Super Bowl wins in the last 7 years (2006 and 2009) and an additional Super Bowl loss in 2011. No team in this modern age of free agency can sustain winning and winning big for such a long period.

I also thought that it would be amazing to see Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the leading rusher in the NFL in 2012, live in front of me, just two hours away from where I live. I had a bad feeling he would be injured before the game, but thankfully he made it through a week 3 loss against the Cleveland Browns in one piece.

One thing is certain on Sunday, one team will be travelling back over the pond with their first win of the 2013 season, and one team will have reached the quarter mark of the season with no wins and a rather embarrassing 0-4 record.

Gore will be looking to slash the Broncos defensive line at Wembley

With two combined wins in their last 10 games, and only 3 wins in 14 contests between them, this is on paper the worst two teams to come and play in the NFL International Game, in the four year history of the contest.

Still, one mustn’t grumble we are under 5 little days away from the 4th consecutive regular season NFL game to be played at Wembley Stadium, and although it may rain, and whilst my wife will not exactly be beaming I can’t wait.

Whatever anyone says the real key to this game is how many touches that the talented 49ers running back Frank Gore (pictured above).

If Gore gets 30 touches then the 49ers win, if he gets under 20 this means they are passing and it spells doom and gloom.

I will take a small reporters notepad with me to Wembley on Sunday (along with a plastic bag to put my programme into) and I will be tooting up the Gore touches.

The 49ers opponents in England, the Denver Broncos, had their back sides handed to them in a hemp sack by the Oakland Raiders two days ago. 59 points conceded in three quarters by a team quarterbacked by Jason Campbell is simply to painful for words to describe.

Gore must be licking his lips more than a group of donut eaters at the world donut eating championships.

As much as I respect the heritage of the Denver Broncos I am a fully paid up member of the ‘Josh McDaniels is a prize loon fan club’ and I will be rooting for the Red and Gold on Sunday.

Only problem is I have just had a t-shirt delivered from the Next catalogue – and bizarrely its a Denver Broncos retro shirt with the white hose riding up through the big letter D.

I wonder what everyone else is wearing and if you actually are a fan of the other 30 teams who you will be supporting on Sunday?

I’m home, and watching a rom-com with my wife, all in all a very relaxing day. Time I thought to put on my NFL goggles and reminisce about the past decade. Someone pass the dry roasted peanuts please.

This giant Jason Taylor greeted UK NFL fans at Wembley in 2007

1) THE REAL NFL COMES TO ENGLAND IN 2007

It was a dream that I had since I first watched highlights of the Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys in 1985, getting to see real NFL football that mattered over here in England.

Guess I didn’t know back then that the NFL had already sent the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings to Wembley in 1983 to play a preseason game. 

 Now I was too young (and didn’t have enough pocket-money saved up) to go and see the Chicago Bears play the Dallas Cowboys (1986) or the Los Angeles Rams battle the Denver Broncos (1987) in preseason games in London, but I did make up for it.

From 1988 to 1993 I went to every NFL preseason game in London, watching the likes of the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and even the Detroit Lions.

It was incredible fun (even though back then the NFL organisers had no bloody clue what an NFL tailgate party is) to see real NFL superstars play in front of me, even if it was only for a quarter or even in some cases a single sustained drive.

By the time we got to 1993 I was one of thousands of now quite educated NFL fans who found it a bit insulting to fly the likes of Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders over to London only to see them suit up for 5 minutes and then watch them spend the rest of the game eating sunflower seeds in jeans and t-shirts.

This must have got back to the NFL who pulled the trips over the pond, and instead focussed on other parts of the world, including Japan, Mexico, Canada and Australia.

Fast forward over a decade and we still have no further NFL games in England, but the rumours began after Roger Goodell becomes the NFL Commissioner in 2006, replacing the steady but not so ‘blue sky thinking’ commish Paul Tagliabue.

When it was announced at the end of 2006 that a REAL regular season NFL game was going to be played at Wembley Stadium I was more excited than Tiger Woods with a free VIP all access ticket to the Playboy Mansion.

He wore Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemmmmmmmoonnnnnnnn !

Yes the game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins actually sucked. Primarily this was due to the godawful weather in London in late October, but we also had to witness the Dolphins trying to win a game with the legendary Cleo Lemon behind center (sorry Cleo I love you really).

The score really didn’t matter, nor did the quality of the gameplanning or execution of the plays, the fact we had an NFL contest that actually contributed to the storied history of the league was all that mattered.

Ted Ginn Jr’s first NFL touchdown will forever be frozen in time in the memory bank of each and every fan that was there at the game.

I for one will never forget the humongous Jason Taylor animatronics robot, nor the way the Giants and the Dolphins tore the hallowed Wembley turf to shreds, nor will I forget that each run, each tackle, each kick and each pass will be entered for real into the NFL Record and Fact book forever more.

Eli warms up for his Superbowl win with a win in London in 2007

Roger Goodell you did all of the UK and European fans of the NFL proud, and to boot the winning team from the 2007 game, the New York Giants, went on to win the Superbowl with a late late Eli Manning touchdown.

 Two further games down the line and it looks like the NFL will have TWO regular season games in the UK in 2010.

Can’t wait !

It was a blowout when the New England Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in London just over a week ago.

The Buccs looked ugly, and I tend to agree with the guy from the Florida Tuskers UFL team (the 4 team league set up this Autumn) that said they could beat Tampa Bay.

I imagine one guy who was sure glad to be part of the on-field mobbing was Patriots running back Laurence Maroney. Maroney spent 2008 injured and was not expected to be a huge ‘playa’ in 2009.

Maroney has defied his critics and is performing well in a crowded New England backfield. With Sammy Morris injured Maroney made sure he looked good in London, and his late touchdown was a just reward for his efforts.

I was lucky enough to capture his score into the Patriots painted end zone. He took two attempts to score but he looked very happy. I managed to catch his celebratory hip hit jump after the score as well as his walk back to the sideline.

Enjoy.

It wasn’t a close game, and in fact it never was going to be, as the New England Patriots bossed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from start to finish at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Still, six total touchdowns, no rain, and a masterclass from Tom Brady was well worth the entrance fee, and the slick Patriots offense had all of the fans from across Europe hypnotised.

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It was fun to see #24 Cadillac Williams and #34 Earnest Graham warm up in front of me

I was sad not to see Randy Moss score a touchdown, but I did enjoy seeing the likes of Buccaneers RB Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams warming up in front of me, as well as witnessing Junior (oh the irony) Seau suit up and go after Josh Freeman as late as the fourth quarter.

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He may be in his 40s but #55 Junior Seau still knows how to play football

The big questions now being asked are Can London host MORE than just one NFL regular season game? and in the future could there be enough interest for England to have its very own NFL franchise?

Judging by the knowledgable fans (yes here in England we do know the difference between the Wishbone and the Wildcat, and we can spot someone who has just been found guilty of illegal motion) I think that it is possible to sustain an NFL franchise here.

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I can't wait to come back to London to see NFL football in 2010

84,000 fans made their pilgrimage to Wembley from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and many countries across Europe. I saw people from Germany, Italy and Finland just as a start.

If Roger Goodell needs any more proof that there are dedicated and loyal NFL fans in England then I do not know what to suggest.

Thankyou Roger and thankyou to all of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organisation, including the fans in Florida. You sacrificed a home game to enable passionate NFL fans from Europe to witness real NFL football in the flesh, and we are forever grateful.

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We all went home happy after seeing Tom Brady strut his stuff at Wembley

Roll on 2010 – with maybe two NFL games in London. Can I put a bid in for the Redskins to come over please!

Brandon Merriweather’s two interceptions in the first half of the first quarter (including one he ran back for the first score of the game) were enough alone to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the New England Patriots decided to give the London NFL fans a show none the less.

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Sam Aiken #88 is congratulated by Patriots team mates after his first ever NFL touchdown thrown by Tom Brady

The 2009 Wembley NFL crowd saw Tom Brady throw three touchdowns, one to WR Wes Welker, one to WR Sam Aiken (his first ever NFL touchdown) and one to tight end Ben Watson.

The Buccaneers managed just one score themselves, in hurry-up time at the end of the first half, Josh Johnson passing to WR Antonio Bryant.

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Time-Out New England Patriots - Future Hall of Fame WR Randy Moss #81 takes a breather

The final scoring play of the game was a Laurence Maroney rushing touchdown that I managed to capture on film.

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Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks one of his five extra points in London

New England Patriots 35 – 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the final score. Here is the NFL gamebook from London.

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Watching NFL football live at Wembley Stadium in London on a sunday evening is pure heaven

After a year, and a memorable encounter between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints in the memory bank, it was time to settle down and witness the three time Superbowl champion New England Patriots play the one time Superbowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Not in my living room, not at Ray Jay or Foxboro, but here in England, yes here in England. The third consecutive year the NFL have graced Wembley Stadium and London with a regular season american football game.

It is downright weird to to think that we drove on the M42 and M40 motorway, did not catch a plane, or get on a cruise ship, travelled about 10 tube stops and there we were at a regular season NFL game.

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Brandom Merriweather returned this interception for the first touchdown - I just about captured the play

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Huddle up Tom Brady is gonna call a play!

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Tom Brady grabs a gulp of Gatorzade before taking the field at Wembley

 

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The Buccaneers offense discusses a play call during a tv timeout - note the magic sky camera !